Sunday, April 17, 2016

More lost dogs...


Sorry if this looks weird. My computer is dead and I'm using the blogger app on my phone. It's a bit primative. I can't figure out how to format the images. 

Well anyhoo... Here are a couple more lost or homeless dogs. Drawn from Facebook posts.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Puppies and colored pencils

A little experiment with fore-shortening and using colored pencils, two things I often avoid in my lazy drawings. (I got a little bored with the true life coloring of this dog, added a bit too much purple. Didn't really show up this much until I hit it with fixative. Whoops.) This is from a photo of a lost dog I saw on Facebook. Lately my Facebook feed seems to be heavily populated with lost and stray dogs. I though I'd turn that guilt I feel from not saving all those dogs into a project. So now I'm drawing dogs.

Would you like a drawing or painting of your sweet dog? Message me for info on commissions.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

'Tis the Season

A little drawing of an ornament made of natural materials that some of my art students gave me. Thought it would be a quick draw but...natural fibers require patience. Still managed to preserve the memory of the gift.

Wishing all of you the merriest of Christmases!

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Draw Tyler

Copyright Michelle Taff
From my sketchbook - detail. Copyright Michelle Taff

For the last two weeks I've been really interested in drawing faces. It's a skill that doesn't come easily to me, and I've been saying I would practice more portraiture for a long time. Below are a few examples.

From my sketchbook - detail. Copyright Michelle Taff

From my sketchbook. Copyright Michelle Taff

From my sketchbook. Copyright Michelle Taff

From my sketchbook - detail. Copyright Michelle Taff.

The first two pages I drew from photos uploaded to the sketchy app. The second two, well they're everywhere. Enough said (unless you can't tell who they are...???).  I really like the idea of drawing political figures and also wish I had the skill to draw caricatures. Something else to work on. I will say, my faces generally look like human faces, but rarely do they look like the photo or the person I'm drawing. Plenty of work still to do.

But this week I got really into the idea of sketching my town, and started with a trip downtown, stopping at the Children's Park on the way. This is a really fun project but way more work than I anticipated. If I want to be accurate anyway. Hopefully I don't get sick of it. To keep from getting completely bogged down in the minutiae of drawing places I started a series of small works. This is something I can complete in a relatively quick time and will give me something to sell down the way.

From my sketchbook. Copyright Michelle Taff

From my sketchbook. Copyright Michelle Taff.

Small works.  Copyright Michelle Taff

Also I started back to work on a couple of paintings I started last month and then abandoned. They are NOT completed in a relatively quick time. They are mind-numbingly slow process works. But I can't seem to help but pick difficult subjects to paint. I guess I like the challenge. Here is a work-in-progress shot of Chinese cabbage. Pretty thrilling I know. But... the heart wants what the heart wants... 

Painting in progress. Copyright Michelle Taff

Monday, July 6, 2015

Tips for Procrastination

     Writing a blog can be a bit intimidating. After all you are basically assuming that what you put out into the world is worth reading. It must have some value, right? I've thought long and hard about what I'm really good at. What do I know enough about to really sound like an expert when writing? One of the things I am most skilled in is procrastination. Especially in the things I love to do. (Like art-making which is what I'm primarily focused on.) This is not positive, I know. I write the following with my tongue firmly held in cheek. Please take it in the spirit it is intended, as motivation NOT to do as I do.

Tips for Procrastination

1. Believe in the Myth that is Multi-tasking.

     I am so guilty of this, it's not even funny. I proudly brag about how much I can accomplish at once, when in actuality I simply do a lot of things poorly around the same time. I will continue to try though. I love the idea of doing my laundry, listening to a book on tape, painting, paying my bills and organizing my week all at the same time. I believe it's just a matter of the amount of willpower needed to perfect this skill.

2. Be Overly Organized or Terribly Sloppy     

Hopefully I hid all the phone numbers and personal contact info stored on this page. It is handy, not going to lie! Come on you gotta love graphs! Also you can see here that I am most productive at the beginning of the week. I actually look forward to Mondays. It's my get it done day.

      If you are really talented, like me you can be both obsessively organized and a slob at the same time. I would like to say that this is a learned skill but it's a gift. Now what does this have to do with procrastination, you say? Let's start with the obvious. Sloppiness. When I have a few minutes to draw or even longer to paint, I head into the guest room I lovingly call my studio, which is just appallingly messy most times. Before I can draw I have to clear a space on my desk and find supplies. Before I paint I have to rearrange whatever has been dumped into the four feet between the guest bed and my desk to set up an easel and palette. This often eats up whatever time I have or leads to distractions, like when I find my spiro-graph or decide to arrange my paint brushes by height- again.
     Which leads to the problem of being overly organized. I love a paper planner. LOVE I tell you. I can spend hours decorating it and writing in it and looking through it and planning how I'm going to spend my time. Except that is how I spend my time. Can be so handy. Can be a time suck.

3. Spend Most of Your Free Time Looking at Other Blogs and Books for Inspiration.

     What artist doesn't love to look at art? Gather ideas and inspiration? It's great and we are blessed to live in a time when the world is at our fingertips. I often will sit down and look through my bookmarked sites just to get a good idea of what to draw right now and the next thing I know it's time for bed and I've forgotten most of what I looked at anyway.

4. Beat Yourself Up for Past Failures.

I don't like this page. It makes me want to throw the whole sketchbook away.

     We all do this right? Well ok, maybe I do it more than some. I took a class one time that explained that we set ourselves up for disappointment by having unrealistic expectations. Duh, you say. Well it seemed very profound at the time. An artist has to get used to seeing their own bad work staring back at them. It should inspire them, not make them want to turn off the light and walk out of the room.

5. Don't Have a Clear Idea of What You'll Be Working on Before you Begin.

     Boy oh boy. And how. Do I need to explain? Ok. Well in the page above I knew I wanted to draw and sat down, looked around for something interesting and ... all I can up with was the pen in my hand. This happened on each consecutive day. Pitiful. That's where looking at all those other blogs was supposed to inspire me, right? But I'd already forgotten what I saw. When I was taking painting classes, my professor drilled into our heads that you don't waste time in the studio. Before you walk in, you know exactly what your next step will be. You plan it out while you shower or drive or wash dishes. You are always thinking about what to do next. When I forget this, I loose precious time.

6. Compare Yourself to Others.

This pages were drawn in the style of someone whose style I admire. I would happily link to her website, but I fear you would compare me to her.

     Last week in my Tuesday morning ladies' Bible study we were talking about this and someone mentioned this quote (I didn't note down the author, but I'll try to find out) "Comparison is the thief of joy." Yep. We are all so blessed, but we miss out on enjoying our blessings because we're too busy looking at someone else to see what we don't have. Someone will always be more talented. And you will always be more talented than someone else. Don't let it rob you of your joy. It's yours, for crying out loud.

7. Overbook Your Life.

     Sometimes, procrastination is outside of our control. There are things that have to be done. Have to. Taking care of kids. Work. Feeding your family. These are non-negotiable priorities. There are days I can't squeeze out a free moment. And there are days when I busily do things that could wait, or be done more efficiently later. How much time wasted on a single errand that could be combined with another tomorrow? You know the drill. Say no to say yes, blah blah.

8. Have Too Much Inspiration.

     This may sound backward but having too many great ideas rolling around in your head is as paralyzing as having none. This summer (like every summer) I have a long list of projects. Like refinishing furniture, or writing and illustrating a children's book, or making lots of quilts or a new group of paintings or writing a watercolor workshop or teaching kids art. I get excited and start one project and then I get excited and start another. Well you can see how that works out. I have a lot of things started. It's just overwhelming.

9. Be Unrealistic in Assessing How Long a Project Is Going to Take.

I dread working on this unfinished painting because I know it will literally take hours to do one layer. I worked on it about six hours this weekend and made it about a foot and a half down the canvas.

     I like detail. It will kill me someday. Or blind me. I'll sit down to do a twenty minute sketch of a pine cone and two days later I'm hating myself. I always think I'm faster than I am. I love the finished product in the end, but the joy in the process often gets lost along the way.

10. Mess Around Your With Art Supplies Instead of Using Them.

Well this drawing doesn't really prove the point but it does show my new fountain pens!

     Sometimes I really do draw my supplies but a lot of the time I just move them around or change the ink in a pen or see what types of paper I have in the drawer, or line up the washi tape in the opposite direction as the original way they were stored. I like to touch the tops of the brushes and reorder them according to their purpose. Waste. Of. Time.

11. Let Your Mood and Emotions Affect Your Production.

I borrowed this technique from an artist I really admire, but once again, if I told you who, my work would suffer GREATLY in comparison. I will link to her another time.

     I have the worst habit of only working when the mood moves me. Plurggg! That is not productive.  AT ALL. Luckily the mood hits pretty often or I would never accomplish anything. Also, if I'm feeling down, I'm not creative. I can't get things going. I'm lucky to just keep pulling air into my lungs. Quotes help then, especially scripture (as in the example above). There is a lot of scripture in my sketchbooks. It's imperative to think of art-making as a job. Take it seriously and just do it. Whether you feel like it or not, you big baby.

12. Don't Take What You Love Seriously.

     ...and no one else will either. This is a bleed over from the last tip. If you want something bad enough you'll work for it, cherish it, grow it, and pray prayers of gratitude that you have the chance to do something you love. Artists Make Art. I write these words in my planner every week to shame myself for not taking every opportunity to stretch and grow and worship God through the visual arts.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Trying to get in the drawing mood

 An exercise from the Sketchbook Skool Bootkamp class. Draw an apple in various stages of consumption. This was fun and relaxing. I even loosened up a little. I did this while listening to my Bible study lesson. I'll be coming back to this exercise in many variations. Ink and watercolor in a watercolor Moleskine.